Few would argue that the Steam Deck is a very exciting device. At its simplest, the Steam Deck is built to run games released for PC through Valve’s Steam storefront. But the Steam Deck is more than just a handheld Steam device, it’s designed to be open so that owners can install what they like on the device. Unfortunately, that also complicates things, like how a relatively recent Steam Deck update impacted games including Halo Infinite running through Windows installations.
Were the Steam Deck offered by another company, that would be the end of the story. Windows isn’t the official operating system of the Steam Deck, after all, so why would Valve make an effort to ensure Windows games run effectively on the Steam Deck? That’s not Valve’s approach, however. The Steam Deck supporting Windows installations and Windows games including Xbox Game Pass titles is a major selling point, and is just very cool, in general. As such, Valve has now issued an update helping to correct the issues it previously introduced.
Valve designer Lawrence Yang confirmed that a new APU driver update for Windows has been issued. The intent of the update, according to Yang, is to address issues from previous updates (whether from Windows or Steam Deck) that had impacted the quality of certain Windows game experiences on Steam Deck. The only game that Yang mentions specifically is Halo Infinite, but the issues likely impacted a broad swathe of Windows titles when running on Steam Deck.
To be clear, Valve does not officially support Windows installations on Steam Deck, nor does it officially endorse dual-booting Windows alongside the Steam Deck OS. Valve does plan to support dual-booting with the release of SteamOS 3, but all current dual-booting methods are unsupported. Steam Deck users running Windows on their Steam Decks are on their own.
While Valve doesn’t officially offer “Windows on Deck” support, that doesn’t mean that the company is antagonistic to it. Valve clearly wants Windows games to run as well as they can on Steam Deck and is willing to allow Steam Deck developers to use their work time to make it happen. That doesn’t mean Windows will be robustly supported, as evidenced by these issues happening in the first place, but it’s still an exciting direction for the handheld platform.
What’s also important to remember is that this is the very first iteration of the Steam Deck console. Further, the Steam Deck has only been available for a number of months and hasn’t even reached everyone that wants to order one. The Steam Deck’s future is unwritten and its potential unrealized. Windows support is only just being experimented with, but in two or ten years who knows what the Steam Deck could mean for handheld PC gaming.